Pronounce that Hebrew word right when reading at Mass

We need to read precisely the right word in precisely the right way. That is what being a lector at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada is about, right? If we could only learn how to pronounce the Name of God in exactly the right way, we could learn incantations to heal people. Jesus probably wanted to change the world to God’s liking, and God has been in the process of doing so since Adam and that cursed apple. If they have such a problem, how much more for us with limited understanding?

There is the healing of the paralytic. Jesus asks the grammarians and the Separate Ones, the Pharisees, “Which is easier, to tell the paralytic, ‘Your failures are forgiven,’ or, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk?” The power is not in the words, how they are pronounced, or how we define them. There is also the issue at Mass. What is the proper way to pronounce all of those foreign words in the readings at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada on Sunday morning?

Torah tells us in Judges 12, ‘Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. The men of Gilead defeated Ephraim… When any of the fleeing men from Ephraim said, “Let me pass,” the men of Gilead commanded him, “Are you a from the tribe of Ephraim?” If he answered, “No!” they would ask him to say “Shibboleth.” If he said “Sibboleth…” they would kill him at the fords of the Jordan.”

As early as the time of the judges, very early in Jewish history, there was the correct way according to the tribe of Ephraim, and a correct way for each of the other tribes. Language is a dynamic phenomenon always in the process of changing.” The Jewish language at the time of Abraham was different from the Jewish language from that of Moses and different again from the language of King David.

El Shaddai, or God of the Mountain, is the folk word used for God by the people of the northern nation, Israel. This would be the word used in any incantation to heal people. It has that “Sh,” sound missing from the tribes of Benjamin. St. Matthew lists among the twelve apostles, “Bartholomew and Thaddeus.

Bartholomew is an Aramaic name meaning “Bar” or “Ben” in Hebrew, or son, and “Tholomew.” The root in this name is “Tholom,” more commonly recognized it its Hebrew form, “Shalom.” The “Sh,” and “Th,” sounds interchange, one with the other. Likewise, “Thaddeus,” comes from the same root as, “Shaddai,” “the mountain.” What is the correct way of pronouncing the words? You need to know the time and place of the writer, along with which tribe the writer is from. As scholars, we do not have that.

There is a distinct Boston accent, another for New York, another for Philadelphia, the southern drawl, the Texas stagger, and a host of other distinct accents. How to pronounce an English word? There was a Black English and White English. There was an Irish a German accent. You need to know from where in the nation the speaker is from and what ethnic group the speaker is to know how to pronounce American English.


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